Do You Know What To Ask SEO Consultants?
Today we are going to look over exactly what to ask SEO consultants to ensure your dealing with the cream of the crop in SEO (search engine optimisation). We are going to explore the only 7 questions you need to know to identify if an SEO consultant should be hired or if you should run for the hills. These 7 SEO questions are carefully designed to screen out the amateurs, novices, and charlatans so you know your speaking with an SEO expert, that can bring you and your business SEO success. We want to help you separate the wheat from the chaff!
Q1 - Can You Explain To Me What SEO Is Exactly?
First, you need to ensure you are talking to SEO consultants that can clearly explain what SEO is and how it helps your business. You are looking for a well-rounded, clear and business oriented answer. This is to get a general idea of their thesis on SEO. Here is an example of the type of answer you’re looking for that covers all bases.
“Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the discipline of increasing your websites visibility in the search engine result pages (SERP’s), by implementing on-page, off-page and localised SEO tactics to increase organic traffic, lead generation and sales for your business.”
Its important to note that this answer is grounded in business performance. You’re looking to speak to SEO consultants that understand the purpose of SEO is to ultimately increase business performance.
For instance, Search Engine Land defines SEO as, “the process of improving your site to increase its visibility” but end by stating “to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers”, its this last bit that grounds this SEO definition to business performance.
This will vary slightly in terms of how SEO can be defined. SEO can be defined as increasing keyword rankings, backlinks, clicks, impressions and all of this is true, but it is critical to ensure that your SEO consultant, ties this together with an increase in business performance.
It is also important that you’re dealing with SEO consultants that can clearly explain the different facets of SEO as a discipline. We define SEO into 3 categories, on-page SEO, off-page SEO and local SEO.
You don’t want to be dealing with a one-tick pony that only understands a few working parts of SEO, you need SEO consultants that get the bigger picture and can think at a strategic level with SEO not just a tactical level.
We recommend this question as a starter when considering what to ask SEO consultants, if they don’t provide an answer grounded in business performance and only talk about SEO at the tactical level this could be a red flag.
Q2 - How Will I Know That SEO Is Working?
This question is designed to understand how good the communication is likely to be between you and your SEO consultant. You’re looking for reassurance that they are going to document the progression of your SEO campaign and provide frequent updates.
This is a test of accountability and responsibility. At a minimum your SEO consultants should provide bi-weekly updates and monthly reports. This is how we would answer this question directly.
“Great question, here is how it works. We build a custom SEO strategy that is delivered at the start of the month with objectives and a justified plan of action. We then provide an end of month SEO report that shows if the objectives were missed, hit, or exceeded alongside documentation of all the key metrics and KPI’s with a conclusion of the SEO campaign’s success.”
When considering what to ask SEO consultants, this question is detrimental as if the SEO consultant doesn’t show empathy and expects you to know if the SEO is working without assistance, communication, and documentation, this is a huge red flag, and we would strongly recommend looking elsewhere. When considering what to ask SEO consultants, be sure to add this to your list!
Q3 - When Will I See An ROI With SEO?
The truth of the matter with SEO ROI is that this will very much depend on your industry competitiveness, existing domain authority and what level of investment you’re looking to put into you SEO. When it come to what to ask SEO consultants, this is one they have likely heard before and won’t like hearing again.
However, the reason this is a great question to ask, is because it will make the amateurs sweat and charlatans make over-promises you can screen out. This question is designed to expose the false promises, novices and unexperienced. Here is an example of a competent response to this question.
“Great question, SEO is all about ROI and everything we do is designed to not only get your money back but to get you a significant return on your investment.
Your return will depend on the level of investment you make, the competitiveness of your industry and your websites starting point. We aim to get you a return as fast as possible and we will be able to show month by month how we are progressing towards your return…
It typically takes around 3-6 months before your SEO campaign gets significant traction and your return will also depend on variables such as the lifetime value (LTV) of your clients.
We need to look at how much your clients spend, how frequently they spend and how long they stay with your business after an initial purchase.”
This response is honest, realistic and shows an understanding of how return on investment will be worked out. This response also states that monthly updates will be provided to show how progress towards a return is being made which shows accountability and doesn’t dismiss the question.
The key with this response is what is not mentioned. There are no guarantees for a return in 3 months or false promises. It is staggering how many SEO gurus will make false promises they can’t deliver to win initial business and then go on to disappoint.
You’re also looking for some level of competence, a general answer such as “I can’t tell you”, or “that’s a bad question”, is also no good. You will see some SEO consultants become defensive which shows a lack of confidence in getting you a return and a lack of maturity to handle difficult questions in general.
Q4 - Can You Walk Me Through Your SEO Costing?
When considering what to ask SEO consultants this is a very effective question that can sometimes trigger a defensive response that highlights a lack of confidence in pricing and may even result in the SEO consultant offering discounts and lowering their price which again believe it or not is a red flag.
You may initially believe it is a good sign if someone offers a heavily discounted price, but this often reveals a lack of confidence in what they can produce and highlights that the SEO consultant may have a scarcity of prospects which indicates a lack of experience.
With an SEO expert you’re much less likely to get any sort of discount as they believe in their pricing 100% and lead with the best price. They are also much likely to have an abundance of opportunities because of their expertise and have no need to lower their price as they can simply move on to new prospects.
This comes with an exception of course, there are legitimate promotions and offers that SEO consultants may be able to offer you but be careful to differentiate a legitimate promotional offer and a lack of confidence in pricing. For instance a special promotion such as Black Friday deal is very different to a sudden last minute drop in price as you tell the SEO consultant you need to think about the offer. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Here is the response you want from your SEO consultant.
“Yes absolutely, we have 3 SEO packages, the SEO Essential package, which is £600 per month, the SEO Enterprise package which is £1,500 per month and the SEO Corporate package which is £2,400 per month. All these SEO packages contain a custom SEO strategy. The custom SEO strategy includes an SEO audit, keyword research, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO, link building and monthly reporting. This is included in all the SEO packages…
The only difference between the SEO packages is the amount of allocated strategic you get with each of the SEO packages. For example, the SEO Corporate package will get you 4X the allocated strategic time the SEO Essential package provides, therefore it is at 4X the cost. We also have a promotion for people new to SEO called the SEO starter package that is just a one-off payment of £299!”
You’re looking for a very confident breakdown of their pricing with a simple explanation of the distinction between the SEO packages that makes sense. If they state anything that doesn’t quite make sense, make sure you get them to address this immediately and screen out any incongruencies.
There is also the chance they may price by the hour or even by project. So what to ask SEO consultants that price this way? Well this is absolutely fine as long as they can justify the cost of their service confidently and provide a clear, transparent model of how they price their services. We advise avoiding SEO consultants that will not provide upfront SEO pricing, there is usually a reason they are hiding the price!
Q5 - Can You Guarantee Me 1st Place SEO Rankings?
This question is designed to test the integrity of your SEO consultant, it is widely agreed in the SEO community that nobody can guarantee first-place rankings. When considering what to ask SEO consultants, it is important to ask this question as it may save you greatly in the long run.
Your guard should be up if they are promising first-place rankings, especially if they are claiming it can be done in a modest amount of time for a highly competitive keyword in your industry. Google themselves state that no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
The answer to this question should be something more on the lines of, “We can’t guarantee you a 1st place ranking, but we can guarantee you, we will be 100% committed to delivering the optimal SEO strategy to get you 1st place rankings.”
You’re looking to work with the most pragmatic and realistic SEO professional possible and its very important you differentiate an optimist from someone with their head in the sky and not grounded in SEO reality.
This will also allow you to screen out charlatans looking to earn quick money by promising you the world so don’t be scared to fire back if they guarantee that 1st place SEO rankings can be achieved.
You could say something on the lines of, “It was my understanding nobody can guarantee 1st place rankings as ultimately only search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing can determine what gets rankings in the search engine results page (SERP’s)”. They will either continue to spin the truth or will correct the way they responded.
Q6 - Can You Tell Me The Risks Involved With SEO?
All investments have risks, but SEO is relatively low risk compared to other marketing methods. Most SEO experts can explain why investing in SEO usually holds less risk than simply not investing in SEO. When looking at what to ask SEO consultants, this question will test confidence, SEO knowledge and allow for the SEO expert to shine through.
Your digital performance stagnating is probably the biggest risk of all. However, the reason you should ask this question is to test the confidence of the SEO consultant and screen out any excuses they may be looking to make later down the road.
If you get an extensive list of risks when you ask this question, just be mindful that these could be used as excuses to justify poor performance in your SEO campaign later.
Here is a great response to somebody that gives you a comprehensive list of risks, “With all the risks you have just mentioned in mind, how do you plan to minimise these risks and not use them to rationalise poor performance?”, this question may be uncomfortable to ask but could make or break your potential SEO consultant.
Here is the sort of response you are looking for when you ask this question. “Yes, there are risks with SEO like all investments as mentioned, but when you work with us, we minimise these risks by offering a month-to-month flexible SEO campaign where you can increase, decrease of stop your investment at any point in time as we don’t believe in long term fixed SEO contracts. We also do this to create a dynamic in which we must win your business each month with the previous months performance.”
This answer is a deliberate attempt to minimise the risk of SEO that makes fiscal sense and ensures that they will be getting results every month and not excuses and is what you should expect to hear from an SEO expert. Look out for over-promises and overly defensive responses when asking this question and the follow-up question provided.
Also be sure to question SEO consultants looking to tie you into long term contracts and ensure that they can justify this risk. You may want to ask them what happens if you’re not happy after month 1 and want to cancel and make sure they can fully justify themselves.
Q7 - What Makes You Different To Other SEO Professionals?
This question is designed to elicit any additional reasoning they may have to be a better option than any other SEO consultant. An SEO expert knows what makes them different and will be able to answer promptly. You’re looking for no hesitation and a genuine differentiator.
For instance, the fact that Concourse Marketing offers a month-to-month campaign that can be cancelled at any point in time is unique, alongside how we offer fully customised SEO campaign and not cookie cutter SEO solutions, this makes us very different to our competition and we know it.
This is a great question if your torn between hiring one SEO consultant over another. You will also be surprised by how many SEO consultants don’t know there unique selling proposition (USP). Many SEO consultants will resort to pricing to differentiate themselves; this is a red flag in SEO, low pricing usually results in poor results.
Another popular answer is quality, be sure to get them to expand on this, you could ask “what is it about how you operate that is of higher quality than the average SEO consultant?”. You’re looking for them to clearly position themselves as an expert and differentiate themselves from an average performer.
Final Thoughts On What To Ask SEO Consultants
When asking these SEO questions make sure you have a pen and paper or record these responses so you can listen back as you will always learn more the second and third time you hear or read back through something. Use your intuition as a successful business owner looking to invest into SEO for your business you clearly have a great level of business acumen and you should use it. If your gut is telling you something isn’t right be sure to up the pressure of your questioning.
Don’t accept anything less than clear answers that satisfy your concerns and don’t make any impulsive decisions to work with an SEO consultant you may later regret. Tell the SEO consultant you would like time to think on their answers, they should be professional and respect your wishes.
Now when it comes to what to ask SEO consultants, you should feel equipped to screen out the wheat from the chaff and find an SEO expert that will drive your business significant SEO results. Please feel free to contact us for further support around the subject and make use of our free SEO consultation with no obligations, please also check out our SEO packages.
What To Ask SEO Consultants - Top 7Q's To Hire An SEO Expert
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